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Intech Winchester | by Beardy Vulcan
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Intech Winchester

INTECH Science Centre & Planetarium is an interactive centre administered by the educational charity, The Hampshire Technology Centre Trust Ltd, with the specific purpose of promoting the knowledge and understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Trust was founded in 1985 by like-minded people in business, industry and higher education in response to the local shortage of scientists, engineers and technicians. From humble beginnings INTECH has grown into an important regional hub for informal science learning and a popular visitor attraction for schools and the general public.


INTECH is largely self-funded with more than 97% of its running costs being internally generated.


In 2002 INTECH was re-housed into this new 3,500 square metre purpose-built, award winning building at Morn Hill, near Winchester. The multi-million pound project was funded partly through the Millennium Commission, NTL, IBM, the DfES and DTI, SEEDA and HCC.


The exhibition inside consists of 100 hands-on exhibits, which communicate the fundamental principles of science and technology and their applications in industry and the home in a fun and interactive way. INTECH acts as an inspirational school visit destination and a unique and fun public visitor attraction.


Almost all of the exhibits are designed and built in-house utilising many years of experience to ensure that they are fun, educational and robust; the Workshop team also build exhibits for other science centres, museums and attractions.


The dome on the right is a planitarium which in 2008, with the support of the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), converted the auditorium into the largest capacity planetarium in the UK employing state of the art digital projection equipment and software. The planetarium programme comprises a full range of presenter-led and pre-recorded shows for schools and the general public.


As well as thhis all-weather centre INTECH offers a variety of flexible facilities for corporate meetings, conferences, launches and hospitality. The air conditioned planetarium provides a setting for business presentations with its 176 tiered seats, state of the art lighting and 7.1 surround sound.


Planetarium technology has advanced beyond recognition in recent years. It's not just stars; now full-screen video can be shown using a digital projection system. The cinema-grade surround sound system adds to the feeling of total immersion.


INTECH’s system, designed and installed by Global Immersion, relies on a bank of seven computers running six projectors arranged around the audience (hidden behind holes). There is no central projector to disrupt the view. Each projector creates one part of the image. The projections fade out at the edges to blend into the neighbouring sections to give a 'seamless' appearance. The projectors are reguarly calibrated to ensure brightness/contrast/colour matching across the entire dome.


In addition to playing pre-rendered shows, UniViewTM software by SCISS allows presenters to fly visitors through a virtual universe based on actual scientific data. Each star and galaxy is accurately plotted and planets are 'wrapped' in real images from spacecraft wherever possible. Nothing is pre-recorded, everything is rendered in real-time, making each show unique.


The presenter can set time and date to show objects in the correct locations/orientations for the time of the show and then pilot a seamless flight from Earth around the solar system and out to the edge of the visible universe, bringing in labels or markers as required, or speeding up or slowing down time to demonstrate the movement of objects.


Intech is inside the South Downs National Park which is England's newest National Park, having become fully operational on 1 April 2011. The park, covering an area of 1,627 square kilometres (628 sq mi) in southern England, stretches for 140 kilometres (87 mi) from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east through the counties of Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex. The national park covers not only the chalk ridge of the South Downs, with its celebrated chalk downland landscape that culminates in the iconic chalky white cliffs of Beachy Head, but also a substantial part of a separate physiographic region, the western Weald, with its heavily wooded sandstone and clay hills and vales. The South Downs Way spans the entire length of the park and is the only National Trail that lies wholly within a national park.


The sky here has been tinted for effect.

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Taken on November 1, 2009